Picking Up The Pieces: Northern California's Most Powerful Earth

Picking Up The Pieces: Northern California's Most Powerful Earthquake Since 1989

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Napa, CA - A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them. Scores were injured as the temblor knocked out power to thousands, caused gas and water lines to rupture and sparked fires.

Update From Hal Eisner 7:45pm:

One Person's Trash is Another Person's Treasure

It was a parade of people tossing with busted-up personal treasures and crushed breakables showing up in the parking lot of the Napa School District Headquarters which is also where Napa Union High School is located.

When the earthquake stopped clocks at 3:20am Sunday morning dumping locations had to be set up and there's been more trash than space to put them.

Public Works Director Jacques Larochelle says “We have been somewhat overwhelmed I have to admit, but we are putting additional resources, trucks, loader to load up trucks and take it to the trasner station.”

It did get overwhelming in the parking lot of the school district. Just after the quake this was deemed an official dumping site. That changed, but somehow the word didn't get out. I showed a list of the new locations to locals as they came to drop off trash, but no one I asked knew there had been a change.

And, not only people were bringing broken goods to this and other locations, they were bringing things that clearly weren't damaged in the earthquake like shoes, sofas and mattresses. There was also lots of e-waste. There were TV monitors big and small that looked okay. This was not a place for non-earthquake trash, but it was happening anyway.

Amanda Downs with Napa Parks and Recreation told me something I already knew. “We're even getting people coming pulling trash out of the dumpsters and taking it home because there's nothing wrong with it.”

Some of those digging through the trash homeless. Others were looking things for their home.

But, was there something wrong with such an unsupervised dump at a high school where we saw little kids playing just feet from broken glass. We took the question to city hall.

I asked Public Works Director LaRochelle, "If somebody goes through those piles of rubble they can get hurt right? Are you concerned about that? He replied "People are going to do what people are going to do. We're not actively pursuing that and chasing people away. We're busy looking at other things right now.”

But, they did act on this. 2 and a half hours after our interview we saw students and school district personnel asking people to go to other lots to drop off their trash. A half hour later a new dumpster showed up. Then, a skiploader and trash was finally being moved away and people were being kept away.

Finally, in the category of 'one person's trash is another person's treasure' meet Jessica Provenza and her mom Karen who told me “we're collecting rocks from sites and other garbage to make artwork to donate back to the charities." "Isn't that dangerous." I asked. "all the broken glass?" Jessica said that's what they want... pieces of broken glass to make things to give people hope.



Update From Bob DeCastro: Tuesday, August 26th 7:00am:


The North bay still picking up the pieces, following Sunday's powerful 6.0 magnitude earthquake. But it is now clear it could take years to fully recover.

In Napa, 75% of structures have been inspected. The number of red-tagged buildings continues to climb. Some 70 have now been condemned and 200 have been yellow tagged, which means people are only given limited access to a seriously damaged structure.

Progress is also being made in nearby the Vallejo. Inspectors so far have identified 11 buildings that required red tags, including the beloved first Baptist church.

There is some good news. Power has been restored to tens of thousands.

Nearly 100 water mains ruptured in the quake, and engineers say all should be repaired by Thursday at the latest.

Amid the destruction, lessons were learned. Buildings and homes that had been retrofitted fared fairly well. Most of the severely damaged structures were never reinforced or bolted to their foundations.

The impact to the wine industry, critical to the region's economy, is still unclear.

Countless pricey bottles have been lost. And barrels have been destroyed.

The condition of a 13-year-old boy whose pelvis was crushed by a falling fireplace is improving. After 10 hours of surgery, doctors say the team will be in a wheelchair for a few months but he is expected to make a full recovery.

Schools will be closed for one at least one more day

144 aftershocks have been reported and more are expected over the next several weeks.


Update From Hal Eisner 7:30pm:


Whether in Napa or over in Vallejo, some 20 miles away, this was a day for continuing to clean up the mess of broken buildings, cars and houses. And, it's been a challenge according to Napa City Manager Mike Parness who told me "It's been hectic. It's been stressful." Parness says "We're making important decisions under a lot of stress in a very short time frame."

Some thirty hours after the 6.0 quake rattled this area dozens of city workers could be seen out on the streets inspecting every house and building. According to Parness,"We had 33 yesterday we have 49 today .. buildings that are red tagged." Over 100 wereyellow tagged and everyone else got green tags. They're homes were fine. To Juana Rodriguez who got green-tagged "It's good to know we still have somewhere to live, but it's traumatizing."

Traumatizing for everyone! At a briefing officials said the number of injuries at last check was 220 with one critical. Some people, they said, are getting hurt by broken glass and bricks cleaning up.

Water is still a problem for about 600 buildings where it had to be cut off because of breaks. The city manager says the water should be fixed by Wednesday or Thursday.

And, the wine industry here is feeling the impact. The vineyards are just fine from all we've been able to determine, but some of the wine merchants are taking a beating. Al Jabarin, owner of CalWine, says he lost "about 30% of his inventory. He sells wines that, in some cases, cost $300 to $2200 per bottle.

At 3:20am Sunday morning hundreds of his fine wine bottles hit the ground. That was painful. So is the notion tourists who see these images of destruction may cancel there trips here during a very important tourist season. Says Jabarin, "It would mean a lot to us as a community for our guests not to cancel and still come and see us and do business in town.


Latest Napa Earthquake Stats: Monday 8/25 11:30a.m.

220 injuries, just one person in critical condition.

16 more buildings red-tagged this morning, total of 49 now red-tagged (uninhabitable.)

More than 100 buildings yellow-tagged (sustained damage that must be repaired or cleaned before they can be occupied.)

90 leaks/breaks in water system, impacting 600 properties. Crews working to repair, looking to Wednesday or Thursday before finished. Requested mutual aid to bring more crews in. No concern, though, about water pressure in event of more fires.

50 fires, most significant in mobile home park.

Most 911 calls were for gas leaks or downed power lines.

Only 10 customers without power in Napa.

Some Napa streets remains closed due to debris.

All vehicle bridges safe, one pedestrian bridge closed because of damage to base.


EARLY WARNING SYSTEM : An early warning system gave people 10 seconds to prepare, according to UC Seismic Lab. Here's the video.The magnitude 6.0-quake struck at 3:20 a.m. PDT Sunday near the city of Napa, an oasis of Victorian-era buildings nestled in the vineyard-studded hills of Northern California.

The fires also flared in a mobile home park where four homes were destroyed and two others were damaged, officials said.

WATCH LIVE: Here's a live feed of our FOX affiliate KTVU in San Francisco. They'll be streaming live updates as they become available.

The magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit northern California's San Francisco Bay area Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  Leslie Gordon of the USGS says the tremor struck just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday about 10 miles northwest of American Canyon, which is about 6 miles southwest of Napa. The USGS says it's the largest tremor to shake the Bay Area since the 1989 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake, which reportedly led to 63 deaths.

MORE PHOTOS: Check out our FOX affiliate KTVU's photo gallery from their staff and viewers




The fires also flared in a mobile home park where four homes were destroyed and two others were damaged, officials said.

By midday Sunday, the fires were out and power was starting to be restored, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

"While it was bad, it wasn't as bad as it could be and it was very manageable from a regional perspective," Ghilarducci said.

The quake struck about six miles south of Napa and lasted 10 to 20 seconds depending on proximity to the epicenter, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was the largest to shake the San Francisco Bay Area since the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta quake struck in 1989, collapsing part of the Bay Bridge roadway and killing more than 60 people, most when an Oakland freeway fell.

It was felt widely throughout the region, with people reporting feeling it more than 200 miles south of Napa and as far east as the Nevada border.

GOVERNOR BROWN: Declaring a 'State Of Emergency' From Napa Earthquake

For many, the quake struck at the worst time possible, rousing them in the middle of the night and sending them fumbling in darkness to take cover and find loved ones. A number of the injuries were caused by people stepping on broken glass, falling down or being hit by furniture.

The quake's timing was also bad for Napa Valley's famed vineyards, where winemakers were just getting ready to harvest the 2014 crop. The quake broke thousands of bottles of wine and toppled barrels.

Omar Rodriguez, 23, of Napa, was treated for a gash on his forehead in one of the triage tents outside a hospital that handled the victims.

"We woke up to the earthquake and I thought I was dreaming because I fell off my bed, you know, it was all dark, and I just got back up. She noticed it was all bleeding," he said, referring to his girlfriend.

Officials were still assessing the damage late Sunday in hopes of getting a cost estimate they could submit for possible federal assistance. But the initial assessment found that dozens of homes and buildings in the region were unsafe to occupy, including an historic Napa County courthouse, where a 10-foot wide hole opened a view of the offices inside.

Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa reported treating 172 people in the emergency room, although hospital officials could not say how many of them were there for injuries suffered in the quake and how many for more routine injuries and illnesses, hospital CEO Walt Mickens said.

Twelve people were admitted for broken bones and other medical problems directly related to the earthquake, including an adult who remained in critical condition on Sunday night and a 13-year-old boy.

The teen was hit by flying debris from a collapsed fireplace and had to be airlifted to the children's hospital at the University of California Davis Medical Center for a neurological evaluation. He condition was listed as serious, hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Brown said.

While inspecting the shattered glass at her husband's storefront office in downtown Napa, Chris Malloy described calling for her two children in the dark as the quake rumbled under the family's home, tossing heavy pieces of furniture for several feet.

"It was shaking and I was crawling on my hands and knees in the dark, looking for them," the 45-year-old woman said, wearing flip flops on feet left bloodied from crawling through broken glass.

About 70,000 customers lost power after the quake hit, but Pacific Gas and Electric spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt said early Monday that the number was down to about 150 by 4 a.m.

An earthquake early warning system currently being tested issued a 10-second warning before the quake struck, said Richard Allen, director of the University of California, Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. California is working to implement a statewide system, though Allen said funding has not been secured.

The timing of the quake was bad for business in Napa as well.

Vintner Richard Ward of Saintsbury Winery south of Napa watched Sunday afternoon as workers righted toppled barrels and rescued a 500-pound grape de-stemmer that the quake had thrown to the ground.

"That's what happens when you're a mile from the epicenter," said Ward, who lost 300 to 400 bottles in the winery's basement.

The grape harvest was supposed to start overnight Monday, but it would now be pushed off a few days, he said. Had the harvest started a day earlier, the quake could have caught the workers among the heavy barrels when it struck, Ward said.

Aftershocks were expected to continue for several weeks, though State Geologist John Parrish said they would decrease in magnitude and it was unlikely that there would be a large follow-up earthquake. Still, he warned people to be careful because buildings that were damaged by the quake were now more susceptible to collapse from aftershocks.

On Sunday night in Southern California, a small, magnitude-3.3 earthquake hit off the region's coast.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the temblor struck at 7:50 p.m. and was centered about 5 miles southwest of San Pedro and 6 miles southeast of Rancho Palos Verdes. There were no initial reports of damages, police said.

From Bob DeCastro:

The massive recovery effort still underway following the most powerful earthquake to hit Northern California in more than a quarter of a century.

The historic downtown Napa, just 9 miles from the epicenter suffered the most damage. Tens of thousands of residents are still in a daze.

The 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck early Sunday morning, sending some 200 people to the hospital. A 13-year-old boy was critically injured after being hit by a falling fireplace.

33 buildings in downtown Napa were severely damaged and remain red tagged-- deemed too dangerous to enter. People are being warned to stay away from the damage to structures, as there is still a concern for aftershocks. So far, more than 100 have been recorded.

Nearby streets buckled and A gas line snapped, starting an inferno at a mobile home park. Firefighters were unable to save four homes because of a broken water mains.

Power expected to be restored sometime today for tens of thousands.

The temblor hit during the busiest time for the world acclaimed wine making region. Bottles smashed and barrels crashed to the ground at the start of the harvest season.

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